Oct. 31, 2021

28: And the winner is…


Congratulations to the winner of our Halloween Flash Fiction competition! What? You don’t know who that is? Well, sounds like you need to get your old flappy head trumpets round this episode doesn’t it? Enjoy!

Music by Dano Songs
Transcript

the failing writers podcast will commence in exactly 13 seconds from wait for it waiting now

hey do you know what we should do i know this is a very very exciting episode but before we begin we should announce the big news the big big news big big what what is the big big news what big big news are you saying uh yes yes well we are saying what big perhaps i can probably use how big can it be bigger than big big big perhaps i can provide more clarity by asking dave a question dave yeah have you been writing anything uh oh that big big news yes i have i've i have written a book john i have finished writing a book the book i've been working on for about three years i finally finished it um yeah so was that a total rewrite because that seemed to happen very quickly it did i thought that yeah it wasn't a total rewrite but uh sort of everything around it sort of got rewritten but everything happened really quickly with it you know what like when sometimes you have an idea that just works so well and it just clicks in yeah it just and so i like all the new bits came out really quickly and then it was just a case of going through the existing stuff and making little tweaks here and there so that it fitted but it just rattled off i think that's when you've been you've been very brave as well haven't you dave because you've sent it through to me and john to read exactly yeah so when i say finished it depends entirely on what you come back inside i have to say i have i'd love to say [ __ ] there but it's not i'm really enjoying it and then i found i was reading and you know i'm like for reading i don't read anything and i was reading it the other day i was enjoying it so much that i got to the point of going oh [ __ ] dave probably want me to think about this so i can say oh maybe this i was i was completely just in there oh that's in it no just so yeah just read it you're not getting any feedback other than i'll finish it that was all right oh yeah it's all right yeah that's that's all you're gonna get i'm afraid so that'll that'll do me that is about the best compliment that you could have isn't it birdie is tom actually reading it i'm not complaining about it either no i genuinely enjoy it like trying to find time to read it i'm probably a third of the way through it blooming wow that's good isn't it that is good that is so i'm not looking forward to the bits i'm obviously reading the bits that your dad's written at the minute yeah i'm not looking forward to the second half to be honest suddenly why is this this is really jarring this chapter why is it written in crayon and not typed out like the other day oh well done no it's brilliant that dave a little bit a little bit jealous but also i have to say reading through it i can't see any reason why that wouldn't get sent somewhere and get accepted like why it's not more or less than anything else i think it's got a real real quality to it well at least i can start i can start the process of working out what the hell to do with it now yeah yeah definitely definitely off the back of all that having just finished something we should also point out that as this goes live nanowrimo rhimo starts tomorrow so yeah are we yeah you know idle hands and all that are we ready for that are we all ready to begin nearly i'm not really ready but i might be by the time i'm aware that i need to be ready it's nearly a week isn't it i mean you almost got a week so it's just sounds like quite a decent amount of time to get ready but the thing is we just we've got so much going on and it's such good fun like so next week we just we were at some poetry didn't we bit but we've got kate coming on next week to rip us to shreds on that one any any ego you've got there writing you your day from finishing your book we'll sort that out next yeah pull that to shreds what else have we got after that we've got um uh tim glister yeah brand new author uh debut off and he's doing like a spy thriller isn't it which is that's right it's good so we've had a chat with him and then i mean we can't talk about everything because some stuff's still to be confirmed but i don't know we might have after award winning screenwriter coming up we might do a bafta possibly possibly wow so uh yeah so if ever there was a time to subscribe um probably about five or six weeks ago when we started doing some good stuff but if yeah the second best that's what they say isn't it the best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago the second best time is now same subscription to a podcast i mean yeah the second best time was probably 29 years ago and then yeah everyone well no there's a lot of a lot better yeah the 30th best time is today yeah yeah yeah you've ruined that ancient chinese problem i've been knocking around for like 3 thousand years dave knows really but you've you've made it a lot longer

that's all for the future the future's all well and good but what about the hero the immediate future i am genuinely i was just saying to john before we went on i am generally like a bit giddy about this yes yeah it's exciting it is extremely exciting we've had entries literally from all over the world everything and a lot of them as well yeah yes so very very briefly usa canada australia romania finland spain poland india island new zealand south africa germany sweden the netherlands denmark front singapore norway and wales uh we've had entries from wow that's a lot of countries there's a lot of countries isn't it it's worked out pretty well hasn't it no it's brilliant and some of the stuff coming has just been um absolute rubbish hasn't it some of them so i made a list of the ones that didn't make it that were rubbish because i think these people need to get something yes let's read them out now um there's janice janice bartholomew from stevenage um janice terrible that was a horse going to the cinema that isn't scary in itself yeah if anything it's quite funny so that was rubbish um lippy boswell had you that's yeah that was just the plot to the shining that's that's a good [ __ ] that's just cheating isn't it yeah uh chester lankwesa um we asked people to email their entries in not post them and the fact you wrote it in blood that was like i know it's halloween but that was not cool

kidding obviously they were very good they were pretty much on the hall 100 good now they were great without to the point it was really really hard work incredibly hard isn't it i thought we'd just kind of breeze through them and go yeah that's right yeah that one's good that one's rubbish but it was like probably did you find as time went on and you you were reading through them that your sort of filter kind of adjusted upwards as you got more as you got more entries like the standard of some of them were so good then some some that i'd sort of earmarked from earlier on i was like yeah now that's true actually when i don't have that one now i mean it's that one and then you find yourself circling back yeah yeah ended up rereading them all again and then re-reading them all again just in case it was wrong but yeah but and and then the fact that we all kind of shortlisted there was some there's like a few that kind of went on there was some crossover in there a little bit but there was also some different ones that and the ones that kind of made my long list that i then changed into my shot german so there's obviously something in it but it's just how certain stories chime with different and it did make me think about you know when we've talked about judging beforehand the part of it is just that individual thing as well isn't it that's subjectiveness yeah yeah yeah totally yeah there were some that almost made my short list just because they were so like mad creative and just different yeah yeah and interesting there was a couple it was a couple where you felt like a really sort of frustrated teacher almost yeah where he thought god if you just left those last three lines off you didn't need to do that you could have left it and it would have just been oh but you've ah it's actually it's a it's a lovely thing to do isn't it to judge a competition sitting in just sitting judgment of other people is one of the finest things yeah for a change yeah but also it shows like as you write about sort of judging it's it's really really hard to be totally objective and impartial all the way through because i find myself reading some and a part of me thinking oh i quite like this but i've heard something like this before and then i realized well it's only because i've just read a load of stories about the same subject so to totally reset your mind at the beginning of every story and be objective is really really tough and give it the same uh concentration as you have for all the others yeah it's quite difficult as well yeah there was somewhere sort of drifting and i was like nope come on john back to the beginning yeah drifted yeah if i couldn't get past the first two paragraphs i just start reading no that's what they do well i think yeah i think there's a there's some truth in that definitely so like dave dave made a list of countries do you know what i made a list of what was that things that hit the floor with a thought oh nice so we had a monster tongue phone a heart a box of trap souls a scary doll doors hitler a pumpkin another pumpkin a crystal dildo a girl's disembodied head a door handle a broomstick an unspecified it on the other side of a wall a left big toe a shovel a framed photo of the lady of the manor a lollipop and a penis an actual penis do you think a lot of people started with the thing that hit the floor with the thud because some of them felt like that yeah yeah yeah i kind of get that because it's nice to get out of the way you have to worry about it almost isn't it so you don't get to the enemy outfitted in somewhere yeah but a special can we give a special mention to autumn baker who also got in the phrase a vw beetle filled with pink coasters which i thought i thought was the night that was our silly thing at the start of the episode that was a nice little touch it was a nice touch especially because i thought they just got it right and yes and then the other phrase came up and i was like oh okay yeah you did get the words from the episode that got a little salute from me that did yeah it did but definitely i can't we can't just keep waiting on i can't wait it's like christmas it's like come on let's move on well yeah so here we come to the good bit which is the fact that ultimately uh we weren't in total control of the winner which i think is a really good thing yeah the fact that we had an expert to step in at the end and sweep up the pieces absolutely because i think we would have been arguing to be honest yeah yeah i think you're right it would have been quite a heated debate yeah so it's good that there's an impartial expert stepping in to to pass final just put us out of our misery hopefully like the court of the supreme court shut up and find out i'm building him up stop it this is the zeus yeah no just right let's get open the door just open the door tom let him in shut dave up i'm trying i'm stuck i don't know why this isn't is it the i don't know if i've got the right key is that there you have to twist i think you have to twist that bit to the to the left just pull that probably that that

is that the wrong that's in the wrong one isn't it that should be over are you sure that's the right key maybe it's just expanded because of the weather you know the moisture makes the wood swell and then it won't mate do you want me to have a little girl no it's fine i'm just it's just because of the do you imagine this door anyway was that was it you better it was you that imagined it john so why do we need to have so many locks on an imaginary door failing writers couldn't even think the way past an imaginary door hey typical it's on brand tom brand if nothing else oh hold on it's already open

well done yes welcome tim welcome hello thank you very much for for having me back oh we we are beside ourselves with just wanting to know what just tell us

i'll tell you what it was could you are you going to do like a long reveal thing like they do on the bake off i am gonna do a bit of a reveal because um i think we owe it to these people who've submitted these amazing stories yeah we should say actually when we first talked to you about it and we're saying well yeah we'll whittle it down we'll probably send you like seven or eight nine ten maximum and then i had to send you that email on on uh like saturday or whatever saying uh oh sorry tim it's like 19 we can't get it down anymore we're kind of stuck they're all quite i know and they were all really really good i mean you're genuinely really really impressed by them and by the standard and the variety in the ways people approached it um so yeah thanks for giving me a really hard job yeah i feel like i'm massively under pressure here because normally when you're judging these things you're not doing it live as i am with you guys and you guys genuinely don't know what what i'm what my order's gonna be and i don't know what you were thinking or what which ones you you picked out so what i'm really hoping is that when we get to the winner you guys aren't going to go oh god no no

the judge's decision is final this is when tim tim listens back to the podcast next week and he goes the winner is there's just one of us going this one really really bad change changed something else so where do you want to start tim where do you want to start i mean as i say there was there was something and and i think it's important saying these were all um judged anonymously yes you know by which i mean you know is me judging them uh but uh yeah we know you are yes sorry i just wandered in we don't know who wrote these stories i think that's always really important with with give everyone a fair crack of the whip yes even though there's a large community of people writing flash fiction you do see the same people popping up you know here there and you know have some who are mates and some you know fairly wells and you don't know at all so it's very important i think that that's that's taken away from you and you're judging them blind um i can't wait for tim to announce the winner of someone he absolutely it

it's flash fiction nemesis

no i'm i'm very happy with my choices and i say very impressed with with the standard so without further ado yes yes yes yes yes as they say i think i just wanted to do a couple of what you might call commendations first just to say so two who didn't make the the top three but stories that i thought were really really well done really nice absolutely grotesque gruesome lots of blood and gore amputated talking body parts really scary yeah and those two stories were firstly a story called tong yes yeah and put in pieces grizzly emil cholich put in pieces ah yes um tim clayton first one that was one of on my little shortlist nice one emil and tim congratulations yep yeah well done highly commended right so those were commendations now we're moving on to the three years yes yes yes so oh dear this pressure's on me this is like yeah we appreciate it you are under quite a lot of questions yeah

um in third place a girl takes the train home at night oh that was uh casper yeah casper rasmussen and this this is what is known in the trade as a breathless um and if you don't know what a breathless flash is it's uh no full stops exactly um so it's it's there are no full stops in this illness um and it's all one long sentence oh my god you know what i didn't realize that when i read yeah it took me to be honest i think it was only on the second or third reading i mean i read these so that means it's done very well doesn't it because yeah yeah so it was all sentences it really grabbed my attention that that whole no full stops thing so from a craft point of view this was you know this was really really good it's a really powerful story and that the fact it's all in one sentence really helps the pace movement which mirrors the movement of the train which is which is in the story it's all one long scene it's almost like one shot you know in a in a short film yeah yeah that's a great way of putting it so it's it's all moving along and i was definitely on the train with the main character here rooting for her there's you know a fair few social and gender issues topical ones that are neatly weaved in yeah the suspense was excellent the sense of foreboding and menace and threat yeah there was a twist at the end and as i said when we spoke before i'm not normally won over by twists and stories i can feel like you've been a bit cheated as a reader but i think in a halloween story i think that's permissible i think horror is largely about surprise yeah and he's a shock of some sort isn't it the shock so yeah and and you were rooting for the character so it was good to see her kind of turn the tables if i haven't given it away too much it's an excellent story so yeah third place a girl takes the train home at night brilliant brilliant okay oh pressure's on now second place second place i have gone for halloween babies right yes oh yeah remember that one the baby oh yeah that was funny wasn't it like a really good way yeah this is such a simple idea but so well handled um i think it builds really well it's really well written terrific visceral literally i mean you want to look away from some of the descriptions but there's humor as well about the confusion between again i don't want to give too much away i think you should really read this but up against about what you're talking about yeah or what you think is being spoken about um again it's kind of a twist but it earns the twist you know the twist is gradually revealed as as the story goes along yeah and and frankly you needed the twist because if it had actually been about babies yes yeah i love this story halloween babies second person that was that was a choice terry mulholland who sent that one terry very very good yeah i'm in first place um i think i said to you when i first got these you know i was really struggling to sort of separate a few of the two things but the more the more i read them the more one of them kind of you know like the cream floated to the top and it's this one and um this is such a special one and it and it feels so confident it's i think sometimes with stories it's a bit like getting into a into an uber or you know and you sort of sit there and you think what kind of a driver have i got here and and you know very early on in the story and in the drive that you're in safe hands you know you've got this there's a confidence to to to the to the driver you get the sense they're going to take you to the to your destination safely you know that this is someone who really knows what they're doing and that's the sense i got from this story um and it is and this is where i'm going to make a complete form of myself trying to pronounce it and i did my research on this so i'm hoping not to offend anyone here but the title is sowing in salem right oh yes first salmon in salem john that was one of your favorites wasn't it i loved that one that is craig margolis who uh send that one in he wrote that right so congratulations craig well done craig well don't cry 100 pounds will be winging its way towards you yeah yeah it's got a real sense of time and place and it's got a real sort of unfamiliarity about it that appealed to me i think really has i think it's just brilliant it's got two great characters wonderful dialogue an atmosphere it's beautifully paced and written it's a great setting as you said yeah awesome i think it's from what i can read of it it's irish immigrants and colonial america i've always been fascinated with that period as well you know the puritans and the freelance landowners and roanoke and all that kind of stuff and their relationship with the native people yeah and and it's like a suggestion there's a suggestion of magic and yet or everything that's happening in it is plausible too and you come out the story not sure when anything supernatural has actually happened even though the whole atmosphere is weird um you know if you actually break the story down it's it's actually such a simple story very little has actually happened i mean what happens a boy carves a turnip for halloween for his grandmother that's all that happens and yet you come out of it thinking you know you've been dragged through this this mill and that's all down to the writing and the characters and the dialogue the atmosphere there's no whiz-bang plot you know yeah and i think that's just and there's no there's no whiz-bang writing either if you know what i mean it's just very simply written it's kind of stripped back it's just very beautiful and yeah charming great lines as well yeah can i ask him are you sure that at no point in your judgment there was the fact that you know that we've promised to perform this with all the uh irish written dialogue in this that you didn't think actually this would just be really funny to hear the boys trying to actually produce this one yeah to hear the lads cod irish accent do you not all have the irish accent on your show reels really

funnily enough no but we might do by this time next week time to start studying

such a such a brilliant story i don't know i don't know craig but well done craig that's yeah i was really really impressed with this one right i'm really pleased you picked that one yeah that was one of yours wasn't it john do you know what as well that with that story it really left me wanting to know more about it as well i think you were talking about you know you kind of when you're reading a story or it's particularly short fiction you want to feel like you just sort of come in at a moment and then you leave wanting to sort of or believing that the characters continue on their way that's right and i just i wanted to know more about that story i wanted to know more about their journey there and you know and that's i think that's when you know you're reading something good very much so i just want more and in this one it was it was voice it was character it was dialogue it was setting and it was it was just such a confident confident piece that doesn't demand it's not desperate to be liked it just washes over you and leaves you with a definite sense that you you've experienced something powerful like every good story should yeah yeah congratulations again craig margolis well done thoroughly well deserved and we've all been fantastic yeah great tim we shall let you go thank you so much for your help no guys thank you so much i really enjoyed it yes thank you and we shall speak to you soon thanks mate thank you thank you bye

so there we go now we know who has actually won the inaugural halloween flash fiction contest yes um congratulations yeah you probably want to hear it now though don't yeah absolutely this was a massive production oh yeah i mean forget your broadway and west end stuff this is this is this is where it's at yeah yeah i mean the prize money was only a hundred quid right but we put the rest of the budget into the production i've remortgaged my house to uh to pay for this yeah we pulled out the pulled out the big guns yep and here it is

first samhain in salem by craig d margolis

ain't no stingy jack mammel the boy looked out of a window into the twilight not half so sure as he sounded don't tell tales forum as me flash and twice as ugly his grandmother cackled her face creases parted to the purpose besides what some ammo for but to spin yarns a tangle sat in her lap long threads woven together puffs on her pipe occasionally punctuated the clicks of her needles a chunk of coal where tobacco ought to have been connor picked at supper potato chunks bobbing in hot milk no blight here tayden good enough for you not hungry save the stuff for your sister then maeve will be back here long he knew better than to offer mamo any she wasn't much of an eater maeve was apprenticed to a seamstress sewing finery for salem sweethearts connor to a cooper bending staves for sea barrels they counted themselves lucky most of the boats had nothing position provision nor even place to sleep still the boy missed ma and da and the rest of the clan there hadn't been enough coin to bring them all to this new world that day conor ducked out early claiming a stomach ache the true cause to prepare for the night he'd be back all the more early tomorrow all hallows it would be though conor didn't think salem folks cared over much congregationalists not a sort for saints he had borrowed a knife from the workshop and filched a turnip from a vegetable cart a big purplish fellow that barely fit under his shirt connor was an honest lad not given to thieving but for this once it was sarwin and his mama would have a lantern keep off the spirits on she said least weighs the wrong source a wild land this once we're witches about maybe still especially tonight not worth taking chances how she knew mamo didn't say with whom or what she communed a mystery conor's gut did churn jittery from thinking on devils and he would have just as soon not whittled mamo set him to rights you feel poorly now wait till jack takes a hold of your nose twist it half he will wear about his neck like pearls with others he grabs from them's two without lanterns the image was enough to get him going while connor carved mamo chattered of fairies sprites even a banshee's keening she claimed to have heard when a girl back in kerry oh frightful it were peeled the skins off the taters just by the screech of it mamo's comforter grew long in her clacking it was connor's first lantern alone and he found hollowing hardest the dull blade slipped from turnip skin to his own he jerked and the half-empty thing flew it hit the floor with a thud god damn it swore the boy as he wiped his trousers red stop your garb mama cried his was no curse for halloween have us here connor's hand oozed until with a mutter and a kiss she dried the drops now get on with it air we lose the light he finished its rude features round eyes square mouth its nose a jagged tear like that he made in his palm connor shared his handiwork with mamo well worth this as good as any i've seen now let's have it lit connor deflated mamo i forgot i'm not delighted you have me dearie with her bare hand mamo plucked the ember from her pipe and dropped it into turnip's belly it gave the garrett the glow of a faraway isle now you can nod off love i'll watch for jack or other nasties mamo wrapped him in her knitting armor against wandering souls bent on mischief maeve returned after midnight to find her brother sound asleep nose intact he was bare but for the clothes on his back attic empty save for a cup of cold soup and a turnip bright with burning coal

well what a production that was it did sound nice actually you did a lovely job there dave lovely job you did you really caught the atmosphere as much as craig did in the words you really uh really brought it yeah and i would just like to say a massive thank you to emma clarke as well yeah provided the voice of the old irish lady yeah that was yes thank you very much emma brilliant brilliant stuff um so without further ado we should um let's have a chat with craig and find out where on earth he got this crazy idea from and um let him know that he's one yes all right but give him a call have you got his number there tom yeah well yeah it's uh overseas he's in washington dc right so that's like plus one

all right just put them in

oh god it's so exciting

hello queen white house uh right did you say the white house yes sir this is the white house ah right yes no this is this is tom from the failing writer's podcast i think i got the wrong wrong number but actually well while you're on is um is mr biden around just for a quick quick chat on the podcast or uh let me just check thank you for calling the white house presidents are busy at the moment please hold and we'll be back to you um no the president of the united states of america is a little busy to talk to the failing writers podcast although he is a big fan of the show nice that's nice to know i mean we thought he was but yeah cool uh well sorry for yeah wrong number so thank you have a nice day right let's let's try that again yeah the right get the number do you know what why don't just zoom in oh yeah good easier yeah yeah craig congratulations you are the overall winner of our flash fiction halloween competition oh my goodness now i mean yes that's the wrong answer oh my god i mean no please no no thank you i mean thank you so much i mean honestly i i don't want to embarrass myself with that being overly effusive but i can't tell you how happy that makes me that's really terrific very very welcome well as you'll hear we've just gone through the with tim the the winning entries and he absolutely loved absolutely loved your piece as did as did john i mean i thought it was rubbish but those guys did too that means those guys put it through no but you will hear what tim says about it and you will you might be slightly embarrassed because he really does the different layers of it and the and the quality of writing in it yeah that's that's going to be a nice thing to listen back to he really really loved it so a massively deserved winner thank you so where where did the idea come from craig well so uh i'm from a small town um in massachusetts just north of boston yeah the town's called marblehead it's right next to salem and um halloween has been my favorite holiday ever since i was a little kid i mean it's sort of in the it's like in the dna of the whole place you got salem and the witch trials you have just in marblehead the the town i mean this is old for us it's not old for you all but town was from founded in the 1600s there's still houses from the 1600s and 1700s all over there's a there's like a motion picture graveyard it's like made for movies with crooked headstones with skulls and crossbones on them and there's a pond named after a witch well to be fair a person who is accused of witchcraft actual witch yes i don't know that she was an actual witch i i would suppose not um but she nonetheless uh you know she was one of the victims of the witch's area so uh the place just sort of calls out for stories and when i saw your contest i mean flash fiction like it's a really challenging way to write but it's a really interesting way to write and i was trying to think through how could i try to capture a little bit of the sense of the of the places or you know where i grew up and spend my time as a kid cool just to go back for a second did i get that right did you say that it's a pond that's named after a witch yes so red red's pond origin the apostrophe that must be a kick in the teeth to get drowned somewhere and then for it to be named after you after which is a little just like rubbed salt in the wounds isn't it right i think you english you know drowned your witches unfortunately in salem they hung them so oh well there we go yeah yeah all right i would say that's better but it's probably not really is it probably probably not no wilmot red was was right so where did you get the inspiration for the for the angle on the story where did that come where did it actually come from where was the seed so yeah so you know this is actually the second story that i wrote for you all and i didn't submit the first one and it's because i thought the first one might almost be too much inside you know baseball as it were for uh for people salem geeks yeah i had nathaniel nathaniel hawthorne in it and yeah i just didn't know if people were going to get it so uh but i took the the kernel of an idea that had to do with what would halloween have been like when it was first brought to the states yeah yeah yeah it didn't it's not this sort of sickly sweet confection we have today at least as i imagined it obviously i'm not that old i wasn't around that but yeah it didn't arrive with popping candy yeah i don't think so attached to it probably no i don't think they had to like the skeletons with the glowing eyes so uh but yeah i looked into it a little bit and the folks who brought it here were believed to be folks who were fleeing the famine from ireland right right in the 1840s 1850s thereabouts and so you know the the title i came up with is a little bit of a play on it so i don't know if it's the just the characters very first halloween in salem or is it the very first halloween in salem um but it's the idea of a of a kid who came here from the famine probably with nothing experiencing his first halloween which would have been i would imagine a much more frightening and real proposition to them than it is to us today yeah probably slightly less commercialized i think you can go buy bags of candy yeah

yeah probably less kinky leather as well i imagine yeah so no no rocky horror picture yeah fewer tv specials all around i've probably yeah no peanuts no you know no great pumpkin so it was pretty harsh sounds sounds pretty rubbish to be honest i don't know how it caught on yeah i think it was just a scary thing i don't think it was a happy thing right so that was i was trying to capture you know what can you do in 600 words but i was trying to capture if i could a little bit of a feel for that you definitely can't really atmosphere in it you really did catch but one of my favorite my favorite bit out of it probably in terms of especially in terms of flash fiction was so you've just described there about them coming from ireland and kind of all the travels over and you you managed to sum the entire period of that history up by just commenting on the state of the potatoes yeah no blight here that was such a nice touch really nice thank you i mean you know everybody tells you about don't be on the nose and show don't tell um but so you know how do you i was i was thinking how do i capture that and try to capture that feel but it was so tight it was so tight i think i think that's why that it works and you get away with it yeah you placed it very quickly it wasn't any extra was there it wasn't like no blight here not like back in the homeland where we've run out of potatoes and it's quite terrible and there's a bit of a famine and actually it's rubbish i mean it just it just leaves you to and it just kind of left it hanging and moved straight on to the next it's just uh yeah really nice there's some lovely touches in it i absolutely love dick craig i it stood out for me for lots of reasons but partly it was just it was just so different to be fair from uh from the others it was it was very it was like surprisingly sort of small and simple and tender um you know so it just felt like there was whilst being very small it felt like there was so much foundation kind of built up underneath the characters like they had lives of their own and uh yeah i just thought it was great but i heard your your line you know your prompt it hit the floor with the thud you know i'm sure there were all kinds of heads hitting the floor with the thud or knives so i made mine a turnip yeah yeah it was great but this story just leaves you wanting to know more about the characters i think and i think that's the trick of it you know you wanted to know more about their lives back in ireland and you wanted to know more about mamo and their sort of and her supernatural side if it is indeed you know supernatural and yeah and uh it almost felt like it could be like an extract from a novel or something i actually think you should write it you should write it you should give up the day job craig give up the day job give up the day job and write the bloody yeah well you've got a hundred pounds coming yeah exactly that'll do it right they'll take care of it uh when did you so i'll i don't know if i'm supposed to if i'm allowed to ask questions but do you think mamo did you think she's a real person is she a figment of imagination didn't even get that far no i love the fact that you you really don't know and that you maybe suspect so i have i have suspicions but i what's what's really nice is i don't know for certain what mammo is whether she's you know whether she's a character from back home that he remembers and is kind of in his imagination or whether she is actually because she clearly sort of communes with the supernatural world and knows a lot about it so maybe there's something else going on there i don't know but i i like the fact that there's no obvious answer that was my yeah that was an answer by the way has uh has anyone else uh got any of that do you know what i hadn't thought about it but now i'm thinking hang on if there wasn't enough money for dad to come why would you send graham how come how how is grandma i've not felt like this since i watched the sixth sense there was a little breadcrumb in there there was a little breadcrumb in there i you know i blame missing that on the fact that we'd read a couple of hundred stories by that point so i i'll allow myself missing that little breadcrumb yeah that's fair oh yeah wow see it's got even more layers than i thought yeah so nobody was there they were still in ireland just dreaming about moving because it was all the time

i'll say that maeve and connor at least right right yeah i'll go to that craig how long have you been writing i mean it depends on what kind of writing um yeah i do a lot of writing in my job but it's not the same not not close yeah so fiction is is fairly recent the you know creative writing um i actually i well almost a little embarrassed a bit but this is the failing writer's podcast yeah i did write a uh novel you can't see my air quotes right on on the air but i did i did write i did write a novel which i think you all would charitably call um rubbish but but i did send it around to uh you know to a few potentially prospective agents and got a little bit of feedback and and as i look back on it it was a good exercise yeah um to try to learn how to do this and um that was it took me a few years and that was probably five years ago and then after i got this over the sting of you know this isn't going to go anywhere i started again and i've got another project that i'm working on now but um and then people keep doing these bloody competitions and like interrupting well but it's but it's but it's great though right it's like it's in so it's so different i mean when i when i listened to your uh podcast announcing the the contest and listened to tim i believe it was tim it was talking about how it's more like poetry than it is yeah yeah yeah and it you know you only have however many words are allotted so every word you add means it's another word you have to subtract and work choice becomes hugely important and so it's i mean it was it was a really fun um thing to do and it still took quite a bit of time because i must have been over it i don't even know how many times um before i actually hit the send button um but it was uh it it it was really uh it was a really fun thing to write you you finished on 663 words craig yes what you know what what happened there why did you well it's because i was too worried about the workout you thought you'd give yourself a little bit of margin for error right every time i saw 666 i was like all right now this is gonna be some some problem you guys are gonna end up counting the title or something and i'll get disqualified so right so it ended up doing just short yeah because it originally i think your first draft had uh mamo's not real with the last three obvious and i think tim and i think tim said don't don't have a big reveal at the end don't have you know exactly yeah so yeah yeah well done on delete i didn't have connor die i didn't you know maeve didn't stab him with a hatchet or anything that's all the secret exactly yeah yeah yeah i should i should probably tell you craig that um just another thing that tim said i mean you'll get to listen to this you'll be out you'll be able to listen to this as many times as you like which is the wonderful thing about the podcast for you but um one of the things he said is that you just felt that you were in safe hands reading it you sort of knew from the first couple of sentences that this is a this is a writer with a very sort of deft handling of language you know it just it had the confidence of someone who knows that they can keep your attention without without being flashy with words without sort of major fireworks and i think that's that's absolutely right that is that is so kind um i really do appreciate that i mean it's it's uh dialogue for me in particular and i don't know how you all feel it's the hardest to to to try to convey and make it sound at least somewhat realistic here i was trying to play a little bit with a with an accent and the way i imagine these folks would have been speaking back then but do you do you know some irish people was that is that any of that kind of was that just sort of from your from your head from watching films and it's mostly from my head now you know i'm a kid i'm not a kid anymore i was a kid from boston right it's like the most irish city in the u.s yeah cool so i mean yeah there's irish everywhere but yeah mostly it's american irish right um and i certainly know some folks who are actual irish irish but but you know only listening to them speak or watching you know tv and movies yeah it was nice because you you got you got a sense of time from it as well you know it sounded like older words if you know what i mean it sounded like it was set in an older time you kind of give you gave yourself quite a hard task in a way but in some ways that's the challenge isn't it of writing these things it's quite nice to give yourself yeah and i like historical fiction so i mean i like to read it um and the other project that i'm working on it's not as old you know except as far back as that but it's still set in the past so uh i it's it's as i'm talking about uh if salem and marble had the places where i'm from i mean they at least they feel old to us here so trying to convey yeah a little bit of that sense um is is part of the challenge and i think it's part of what makes it fun well it sounded authentic even if it wasn't so uh you got away with it that's what you're gonna do with your newfound riches chris can i say go on a bender no i'm not i you know

um more likely i mean i want to do something writing related with it so um yeah some sometimes some of the contests over here um maybe probably over there too have entry fees associated with it uh maybe a little yeah yeah but i i yeah some of the some of the lesser competitions exactly you've got to pay to get yeah exactly yeah we've no pay to play i don't know dubious but yeah um yeah i want this is something that i'd like you know i i just as i as i said i think before we started to record i aspire to be a failing writer so i i would i would like at some point to uh i mean we'll see where this goes right but it's it's something it's right now it's obviously it's a hobby but i don't know what the future will hold yeah god forbid this is the peace

so you know it's something it is

having the three of you and tim read my little story and liking it is that's a pretty big reward so i'm i'm very very close well congratulations again craig um you were very much enjoyed and it was very well earned thank you well thank you thank you for entering and and keep up the writing and uh yeah happy halloween and happy halloween to you all thanks buddy bye

so well done craig d margolis uh what a lovely guy yeah yeah yeah really interesting talking to him actually wasn't it yeah yeah it's nice the winner's a nice guy do you know what i mean if he was a bit of an idiot it'd be yeah be a real shame yeah that would have been awful i wonder what the d stands for human being in his middle name oh well good question to us as we literally just think about it we probably could have found that out quite easily yeah the one person who actually knows the answer to that question yeah i've always wanted to meet someone whose middle name is actually danger maybe you just maybe just do it that'd be kind of cool or maybe it's one of those remember we talked before about people putting initials into their names because it makes them sound better doesn't it want him the competition yeah so that oh my god yeah you're right yeah well done well playing nice move well done very nice move cunning man yeah and we wish him well with his future writing career absolutely but all in all i think we can probably say that our very first flash no we can't say we can't say that we literally can't say literally i think we probably can't but instead we could say that our very first flash fiction competition has been a raging success yeah i think so some brilliant entries i feel a bit bad that some of the there's so many entries that deserve to mention and we'll we'll put some of the stories up on our blog and whatever yeah yeah i think so commended people and yeah definitely but um i i mean i like craig's story and everything and yeah well very good craig yeah it was really good but there's a couple that i feel got missed out do you mean you know what you do have you have your little pet favorite don't you and i was kind of hope you know when you send him through and i was kind of i hope tim likes that one as well and it's great what he's picked and the reasons behind everything but you do kind of have a little attachment to it did you have one because i know that was one of your favorites wasn't it john there it was yeah yeah he was right up there so that was uh i'll tell you did you have one dave that you you got attached to i did actually yeah i did so maybe why don't we do if you go to failingwriterspodcast.com forward slash blog perhaps we could put our own little favorites on there just as something like this dave me and you should actually why don't we just whack him on the end of the podcast there's like a little appendi size yeah that's nice all right yeah okay a little bonus so if you hold on to the end me and dave will read out our little favorite ones oh it's be like one of those like one of those albums from the 90s where you listen yeah there's like five minutes of silence suddenly another song comes off yeah yeah let's do it yeah that's a secret it's not really a secret track now is it hidden not but at the end no kind of giving it away yeah brilliant well that's that done dusty then no more talk of the competition ever please thank you never mentioned this ever again onwards onwards to the next week next week next week is kate fox fox's back talking about our poetry so now that we've we have judged other people it's time for us to be judged once more yes yes so kate is going to give us a honest appraisal of our so-called poetry brutally honest appraisal you could say but uh so that's not to be missed and then um we've got quite a good few interviews coming up after that we've just interviewed um andy stanton one of john's all-time literary heroes um who writes the mr gumbooks amongst other things and that was that yeah it was very good lots of good insights actually tim blister coming up the week after as well brand new author we mentioned before at the start of this part yep spy thing yeah we've got loads of stuff yeah and nanowrimo rymo starts tomorrow as well so we've just got so much to do we really shouldn't stand about chatting we should just get through and if you do want to join our group do remember to email us at failingwriterspodcast gmail.com and we'll add you to our uh no groups yeah i've actually started to call it nino nano rhino or whatever in my head now i don't i can't actually remember what i don't know what it's actually called i've no idea isn't it nanowrimo there

and um see you next week yeah thanks for listening have a happy halloween

hello everybody everybody gone well dave uh everyone's not gone because i'm still here to tell you about my favorite entry for our flash fiction contest which was um the watering hole by tamara pitlin and i just really liked it i liked the writing style i liked the sort of the surface story of the twist at the end but also the sort of the deeper story within of of this woman's previous trauma and previous life and these little hints these little bursts of hints that we get all the way through and how we how we change our perception of this woman as we go through and and well i don't want to say too much do i best that you hear it for yourself and and enjoy delving into the backstory and taking the hints yourself so here is the watering hole by tamara pitlin she glanced at her reflection in the mirror behind the row of ornate bottles the puffy purplish semi-circles under her eyes spoke volumes for 12 hours straight she combed brushed cut and coloured hair on a production line of heads she'd spent a 20-minute lunch break huddled in the storeroom amongst mops and buckets eating the cheese sandwiches she'd made the night before she was paid minimum wage on a zero hours contract she'd never been one to complain double vodka shot in a glass of house white repeated the barman on the wall behind him was mounted a rainbow trout eight pound fifty police smiling apologetically she felt around in a handbag for a purse her fingertips brushed against the smooth cool steel of her hair scissors she handed him 10 pounds keep the change smiled again shooting back the neat vodka she waited for the desired effect the iron band clamped around her head began to mercifully loosen nursing her wine pretending to look at her phone she furtively cast her eye over the other patrons reflected in the mirrored wall tonight's watering hole was a mix of regulars and fresh prospects one group were dressed as an assortment of vampires ghosts and [ __ ] witches harmless halloween revellers she watched the men sneak glances at her from over the rim of their beer glasses watching the watches something wormed in her belly the real monsters don't make themselves so easy to spot just after 10 pm the woman stood up stumbled a bag toppled it hit the floor with a thud the bastard slipped and clattered heads turned judgments passed the woman smiled shyly at her audience taking a moment to steady herself she picked up a bag and headed for the door home was a six minute and twenty second walk away on average but anything can happen in six minutes she thought last month a woman had been stabbed to death in a nearby park the newspapers had shrieked with contrived outrage before describing the graphic details in self-pleasuring and lurid minutiae women are not safe on the streets screeched the headlines turn to page three for an eiffel of today's books and beauty the wind caught the pub door slamming its ship behind her the bitter air of the cold october night nipped at her skin scanning the empty streets the woman stepped onto the pavement her footsteps echoed in the frosty silence

she was less than three minutes from her front door when she heard a second echo of footsteps her amygdala fired flooding her bloodstream with a cocktail of cortisol and adrenaline her pupils dilated and a heart hammered against the bars of a ribcage olympic brains circled through the options fight flight flee freeze the footsteps behind her grew louder just ahead was the corner of her street if she could get around it before him she could duck into the alleyway immediately to the left she made it trembling all over she hid in the narrow alleyway he'd seen her he smiled as they caught each other's eye he was speaking to her but her ears were filled with the sound of her pumping blood he raised his arm towards her something in his hand glinted she lunged forward and pushed her scissors deep into his spleen under his left ribs like lovers in climax they locked eyes a shock then confusion then fear flashed across his face in slow motion a phone dropped from his hand clattering on the pavement shattering the smiling face on the screen she inhaled his breath his life force just like she'd done with a woman in the park she watched him slump to the ground clutching at the hole in his side blood flowed over his fingers soaking into the fabric of his trousers and spilling onto the pavement his mouth gaped open and shut like the ill-fated cod a slimy uncle had caught on that childhood fishing trip hook line

and sinker

right here's my favorite story um i don't know why i like this one so much i think partly because it's so simple and it's really short as well we had a 666 word limit and this one is 247. so it's really simple and it's to the point and it's by lola parks and it's called the curse

some sorts of terror sees your heart strings and pull you may have seen the gun's mouth but that's nothing to the leviathan natant in my mind's mire if you ask friend i'll unfold my fright but once begun you must listen to the end this mark of terror bloomed on my skin when this and the next realm touch halloween night when natural imitate supernatural discerning the two turns nigh impossible and so when a sweet young cryptid joins me at the edge of the party you'll forgive me a few words a laugh a drink magic hid in the curve of her smile but i took it for mischief i liked her

we'd made it to the porch when sonar's colors dulled to mute legato clouds rolling over the stars she whispered with the scent of spirits on her tongue that she was cursed i would give all my voices notes to have believed her then and not have asked further she was it as she leaned into my ear her flushed breath warmed my cheeks but chilled my bones the only way to lift the curse was to pass it on by explaining how you got it her story stuck in my ears like cotton as this one does the words sunk me in treacle as these ones do she cut my brain's puppeteer strings and my body flocked it hid the floor with a thud as your one does i'm sorry friend you're it

Tim Craig

Writer of short stuff | 1st
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